A guide to travel vaccinations
A guide to travel vaccinations
If you’re travelling outside of the UK, you may need vaccinations to protect you against serious diseases that can be found in certain countries.
What vaccinations do I need?
Whether you need vaccinations will depend on where you’re travelling to, what vaccinations you’ve already had and what you’ll be doing – for example, if you’re volunteering in a rural area, you may be more at risk of contracting some diseases. NHS fit for travel provides a guide that shows the recommended vaccinations per country.
You’ll need to visit your GP who’ll look at your medical history and see what vaccinations you’ve had, and if you need any boosters or additional vaccines. You’ll also need to tell your GP if you’re pregnant, breastfeeding or have a condition that affects your immune system.
As of 23rd Match 2020, the UK Government announced a series of restrictions to travel, public spaces and gatherings. For a minimum of three weeks, people are being instructed to stay at home whenever possible. For this reason, travel insurance policies purchased from this date, for trips within the UK with a start date before 13th April 2020, will not be valid.
The UK Government also instructed all British tourists and travellers, that are currently abroad, to return to the UK as soon as possible.
As of 17th March 2020, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) have advised against all non-essential travel abroad for an initial period of 30 days. This means that any travel insurance purchased from this date, for trips outside of the UK with a start date before 16th April 2020, will not be covered by the provider.
Coronavirus was declared a pandemic on 11th March 2020, so this may also affect your policy, particularly those taken out on or after that date. Please check any existing policies carefully, to find out what you’re covered for.
For more information please see our coronavirus and travel insurance page.
When do I need to get my vaccinations?
To get advice on vaccinations, speak to your doctor as early as possible – at the very minimum eight weeks before you travel. This is because some vaccinations may require more than one course, spread over a period of time, to allow your body to develop immunity. You’ll also want to ensure you can get an appointment booked in, particularly during the peak holiday season. If your GP can’t carry out the vaccinations, they may simply refer you to a travel clinic that can.
Which vaccinations are free under the NHS?
The NHS offers free vaccinations for some diseases to encourage people to have them, thereby reducing the likelihood of people returning to the UK with the disease and spreading the infection. The following vaccinations are free on the NHS:
- hepatitis A
- polio (given as a combined diphtheria/tetanus/polio
Your doctor should be able to advise you on which vaccinations are a necessity and those that are lower risk (these are discretionary and shouldn’t impact your travel insurance). You might be referred to a specialist health centre or travel clinic to receive your vaccinations if they’re not available at your GP practice.
Which vaccines will I have to pay for?
There are some vaccinations that you’ll need to pay for. If your doctor can give you the vaccinations you need but the costs aren’t covered under the NHS, you can ask for written information on what vaccines are needed, the cost and dosage. You can either get them done at your GP or a travel clinic, whatever is more convenient. If the vaccines aren’t available at your GP, you can take this information to a travel clinic, who will carry out the vaccinations.
You’ll have to pay for the following vaccinations, if your GP recommends you need them:
- hepatitis B
- meningitis vaccines
- tick-borne encephalitis
- tuberculosis (TB)
- yellow fever
The cost of these vaccines will vary, depending on where you get your vaccination, the dosage you need and how long you’ll be away for. You may also be expected to pay for additional medication, depending on where you’re travelling to, such as anti-malaria tablets. Vaccinations and medication can cost anything from £30-100 each.
Are vaccines covered by my travel insurance?
The cost of your travel vaccinations will not be covered by your travel insurance. However, if you have private health insurance, your plan may cover the cost of vaccines that aren’t covered under the NHS. You’ll need to check this with your health insurance provider before going to the doctor.
What happens if I don’t get vaccinated?
If you don’t get the recommended vaccinations and become unwell as a result, you can invalidate your travel insurance policy. It’s important that you have all the necessary vaccinations before you travel, and make sure you take with you any medication you need while you’re away.
Some countries might also require a certificate as proof of vaccinations before you’re allowed to enter that country. You’ll be able to get this from the travel clinic or GP practice that gave you your vaccines.
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